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Is a COVID‐19 vaccine necessary?

COVID-19 can be a minor illness in some people, but it may lead to severe disease or even death in previously healthy people. Many treatments and medications are being studied, but there is not currently any cure. Prevention is key. Vaccination is an important step in helping to prevent this illness and its potentially devastating consequences, especially in our Montgomery community.

Is taking the COVID‐19 vaccine mandatory?

The vaccine is not mandatory; however, it can help prevent disease and reduce disease severity, especially for anyone who is in a higher risk group, or who lives, works, or socializes with anyone who is at higher risk. Getting vaccinated will improve the health and well-being of our communities and get the economy moving again.

Which COVID‐19 vaccines are currently available?

The vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are available in the U.S. under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). EUAs are only given out in emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Under an EUA, the FDA provides scientific and regulatory requirements to vaccine developers and undertakes a rigorous evaluation of the scientific information through all phases of clinical trials, which continues after authorization or approval. Clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines must first show they are safe and effective before any vaccine can be issued an EUA.

How do the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines work?

Both vaccines used for COVID-19 are called messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. These vaccines work by showing our immune system cells how to make a protein (or part of a protein) that causes an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response produces antibodies, which protect us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

How does the Johnson & Johnson vaccine work?

All three vaccines work by showing your body what the virus looks like, so that your body can be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. The J&J vaccine does this using DNA, as opposed to RNA. All of the available vaccines, including the J&J Vaccine, have been proven 100% effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalizations, and death from COVID-19. Though data suggests it can be less effective in preventing mild to moderate COVID disease, this may be because the vaccine was tested later than the other vaccines. It is also important to note that J&J vaccine trial included more Black and Latino participants, and people with other medical comorbidities than the other vaccine trials. Unlike the other vaccines, the J&J vaccine only requires one dose, and you’ll reach full immunity 28 days after.

Why was the Johnson & Johnson vaccine paused? Is it safe?

Why was the Johnson & Johnson vaccine paused? Is it safe? On April 13th, the U.S. government paused the J&J vaccine due to six cases of a rare blood clotting disorder out of the over 6.8 million doses that have been delivered. This means you have less than a one-in-a-million chance of getting a severe clot - much less than the chance of getting a blood clot from a COVID-19 infection. The pause allowed doctors and public health experts to have time to investigate and re-evaluate evidence about the vaccine. On April 23rd, they recommended resuming the J&J vaccine because the benefits greatly outweighed the risks for patients. This is a great example of our protection systems working as they should to keep us all safe and informed!

Why were the vaccines developed so fast? I’m concerned that these vaccines did not undergo as much testing as other vaccines.

The speed of COVID-19 vaccine development is not a result of compromised safety or quality. The vaccine process is happening quickly because research and development, clinical trials, manufacturing, and plans for distribution are all occurring at the same time, with unprecedented levels of government support. Also, the COVID-19 vaccine technology (mRNA) had been in development for over a decade, and when the pandemic hit, scientists were able to build on this research to develop the vaccine.

How effective are the vaccines? Will they really reduce the risk of COVID‐19 infection and complications?

In Phase 3 trials, the Pfizer vaccine showed a 95% efficacy rate 7 days after the second dose. The Moderna vaccine showed a 94% efficacy rate 14 days after the second dose. The results in both studies were consistent across gender, age, race, and ethnicity.

Will getting the flu vaccine protect me against COVID‐19?

No. Influenza viruses and coronaviruses are different and the COVID-19 vaccine does not take the place of the pneumonia vaccine or the flu vaccine. Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19; however, the influenza vaccine can reduce the risk of getting sick with flu, which can result in hospitalization, adding to the strain put on our healthcare resources during the pandemic.

Is the vaccine being targeted to Montgomery communities of color?

The vaccines are not being targeted at people of color, though communities of color have been disproportionately harmed by COVID-19, due to a range of factors. The vaccine is currently available to all Alabama residents age 16 and over, and the Pfizer vaccine is available to anyone age 12 and over.

Did people of all backgrounds participate in the clinical trials? Were the vaccines effective for people of all races and ethnicities?

In the Moderna vaccine trial, 20% of participants identified as Latino, 10% identified as Black and 4% Asian. In the Pfizer trial, 13% of participants identified as Latino, 10% identified as Black and 5.5% Asian. Final trial results from both Moderna and Pfizer revealed that their COVID-19 vaccines are equally effective at preventing COVID-19 infection across all racial and ethnic groups.

Will my Montgomery community get a different vaccine than other communities? Will we get a lower quality vaccine here in Montgomery?

The Alabama Department of Public Health is responsible for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines, and will be working closely with the City of Montgomery and local leaders to ensure equitable, transparent allocation and distribution. The Pfizer vaccine must be kept in ultra-cold freezer (about - 70 degrees centigrade ) whereas the Moderna vaccine must only be kept cold in a regular vaccine freezer (about -20 degrees centigrade) before being thawed out and used. For logistical reasons, the Moderna vaccine may be more readily available in rural regions. However, the two vaccines are similar in their functionality and their efficacy.

Can I “mix” doses of two kinds of COVID‐19 vaccines?

The COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable . If two doses of different mRNA COVID-19 vaccine products are inadvertently administered, no additional doses of either product are recommended at this time. Recommendations may be updated as further information becomes available or other vaccine types (e.g., viral vector, protein subunit vaccines) are authorized.

How effective is the vaccine after just one dose?

The Pfizer vaccine includes two shots, 21 days apart, while the Moderna vaccine includes two shots, 28 days apart. Pfizer’s vaccine efficacy after a single dose was 52.4% in trials; Moderna’s was 80.2%. However, both doses are currently recommended to get the maximum protection, since there have been no clinical trials assessing these mRNA vaccines as single dose regimes.

Will I get side effects from the vaccine?

You may have some side effects from the COVID-19 vaccination, which are normal signs that your body is building protection from the virus. Common side effects are pain and swelling on the arm where you received the shot, fever, chills, tiredness, and headache (similar to flu vaccine side effects), which go away in a few days at most.

Will older adults or people with underlying health conditions have more severe side effects?

older adults are likely to have fewer side effects. There is no data to indicate that anyone with chronic or underlying health conditions would have a different response to the vaccine. The vaccine is particularly important for these individuals because people with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.

How does BamaVax work?

BamaVax scans vaccine scheduling websites in Alabama (Department of Health, CVS, Kroger, Walmart, ZocDoc, Baptist Health, and Auburn University) to help people find vaccine appointments. It does not book appointments on your behalf; it simply shows you open appointments up front and connects you with the booking sites. It is your responsibility to verify vaccine eligibility before booking an appointment.

For those in Montgomery, BamaVax tweets new appointments across the county via @BamaVaxMGM.

How accurate is the information on BamaVax?

We try our best to deliver good data by checking appointments but we do not guarantee the accuracy of the data. There are some sites which do not allow us to pull appointments onto BamaVax. BamaVax is largely a volunteer effort—please be easy on us! That said, we are always open for your feedback. If you see an opportunity for us to improve, please contact us at bamavax@gmail.com

I found a location taking appointments online that isn't listed on BamaVax. How can I add it?

Vaccine sites are constantly expanding as supply increases. If you know of a vaccination site that is not listed here, shoot us a note at bamavax@gmail.com. Be sure to include the name, address, and website of the location provider.

Why couldn't I find the appointment that you posted/tweeted?

We automatically update BamaVax every three hours. Given the high demand for vaccines and the limited availability, appointments book up quickly and may no longer be available between the time we post them and you go to the scheduling website. Recognizing the difficulty of scheduling vaccine appointments in the best of times, we hope BamaVax can help streamline the process for you.

What are some other tips for getting a vaccine?

  • Check back often: appointments become available as soon as more vaccines are shipped and appointments are loaded into provider systems.
  • Visit the Alabama Department of Health: not all vaccine locations are covered by BamaVax, because some prevent us from scanning appointments.
  • Check your vaccine eligibility status. More and more groups will be eligible for the vaccine in the coming weeks.
  • Be patient: As of now, supply is low and demand is high. As vaccine production increases, it will become more widely available.
  • Wear a mask and social distance: Continue wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and washing hands even after you get the vaccine, until the spread of COVID-19 is under control. While we know the vaccine is remarkably good at preventing serious illness, we do not yet know if it prevents you from carrying—and thus spreading—the virus.

For Montgomery residents:
Get a free, private, round trip ride to a vaccination site
By phone: Call 2-1-1 Monday-Friday between 9am-4:30pm to book your ride (no smartphone or Uber app needed)
Using the Uber app: Use the promo code "10MVMontgomery" to book your ride
Quantities are limited. While supplies last. Must apply the promo code in the Wallet section of the Uber app prior to requsting the ride within Montgomery to redeem the discount. Discount valid for up to $25 off maximum of 2 UberX or XL trips (maximum $50 total discount) that begin in Montgomery and end at vaccination sites in Montgomery, Autauga, or Elmore Counties. Cannot be combined with other offers. On time use only. Non-transferable. Offer can no longer be applied after 11:55pm ET on September 30, 2021. Discount does not apply to tips. Cannot be used on JUMP. Offer and terms subject to change.
Questions? Contact mayor@montgomeryal.gov.
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This site does not provide medical advice, nor does it provide any technical advice. Consult a healthcare provider for medical advice. BamaVax does not guarantee that the appointments shown on the site will be available to book or that you are eligible to receive a COVID vaccine.

As information on vaccine availability may change frequently, you are responsible for verifying all information shown on this site with vaccine providers and state or local health authorities. BamaVax is not responsible for any errors or omissions on the site, and provides the information on the site on an “as is” basis, with no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, including with respect to accuracy, completeness, quality, non-infringement, merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

BamaVax will not be liable for any damages of any kind arising from the use of, or reliance on, any information made available on this site. BamaVax collects no personal information about users of this site. We use Google Analytics to understand aggregate traffic patterns on the site that cannot be linked to a particular individual. The site also contains links to third-party websites. Those websites are maintained by third parties over which BamaVax exercises no control. BamaVax is not responsible for the activities and practices that take place on these websites, or for any materials, products or services of those third parties.